Medical Students Present 2016 Paff Teaching Awards to Outstanding Instructors

To teach Miller School students about renal conditions, Warren Kupin, M.D., professor of medicine, often sprinkles his lectures with jokes and puns. “What is a kidney’s favorite rock band? The Rolling Stones,” or “How do medical students pass my class? Make like a kidney and concentrate!”

Kupin was one of 18 outstanding Miller School of Medicine instructors honored by their students at the 2016 George Paff Teaching Awards Ceremony on April 28 at the University of Miami Hospital Seminar Center. Second-year students Shirin Razdan and Matthew Chen co-chaired the ceremony, assisted by Soum Lokeshwar, Sophia Liu and Catherine Lee.

“I am very proud of our faculty, who are passionate about inspiring our future physicians and scientists to serve their patients, families and communities with compassion and respect,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Dean of the Miller School, in his opening remarks. “Our teachers exemplify our University’s core values and support our School’s continuing growth as a leading medical and research institution.”

Throughout the ceremony, Miller School students praised their teachers for conveying clinical and scientific concepts, while serving as mentors and role models for challenging and fulfilling careers in medicine. There were plenty of cheers and laughter, reflecting the sense of humor and intellectual brilliance of George H. Paff, Ph.D., the school’s legendary professor of anatomy.

“George Paff was a master showman, who cared deeply about making sure students learned the core concepts of anatomy,” said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., professor of medicine, Bernard J. Fogel Chair in Medical Education, and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. “He was also an excellent researcher and author of Anatomy of the Head and Neck, an important 1973 textbook.”

Students in the M.D. Class of 2019 honored three professors and shared comments about their teaching skills. Thomas Champney, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology and anatomy, was honored for his inspirational approach to instruction. “He was the best professor I’ve ever had in my life,” said one student. Carmen Gomez, M.D., professor of clinical pathology, was called “an amazing teacher who gave life to those tiny tissue specimens.” Students called Richard Riley, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, an accomplished researcher who was passionate about teaching. “He made us love B-cells,” said one student.

The M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2018 honored Richard Myers, Ph.D., lecturer in biochemistry and molecular biology. “He can breathe life into abstract concepts,” said one student, while another called him “a spark that lights the fire of intellectual curiosity.”

For the M.D. Class of 2018, Kupin served as “a great role model,” who used humor to engage students and help them learn. Matthias Salathe, M.D., professor of medicine, was recognized for his passion, zeal and ability to challenge his students.

Paola Lichtenberger, M.D., professor of infectious diseases and internal medicine, received Paff awards from both the M.D. Class of 2018 and the M.D./M.P.H. Class of 2018. “She puts her heart into teaching,” said one student, while another added, “She was a great mentor to us.” In accepting her award, Lichtenberger brought her son Samuel on stage to hold one of the awards.

The M.D. Class of 2017 recognized Marie-Denise Gervais, M.D., assistant professor of family medicine and community health, as a “passionate, Zumba-loving Beyonce fan” who is dedicated to the Miller School’s mission of service. Christine Curry, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, was called “an amazing educator in the operating room,” and “a model of humanistic patient care.” Gabriel Ruiz, M.D., assistant professor of surgery, brought his daughter Sara to the stage after being honored for his inspirational teaching. As one student said, “He was supportive and caring even in the high-stress environment of trauma surgery.”

For the M.D. Class of 2016, Joseph Esterson, M.D., professor of medicine, brought excitement to his cardiology lectures “like a cortadito in the afternoon.” Another student said, “His energy would bring even Harvey [the teaching mannequin] to life!” Humberto Martinez, M.D., associate professor of clinical radiology, was honored for teaching students about interpreting radiographs and “guiding us in training our eyes and ears to serve our patients in the future.” Amar Deshpande, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, was called “a phenomenal educator and mentor,” and “the coolest cat in town.” Along with his award, Deshpande was given a banner with his new student-originated hashtag: #livelikedesh.

For the second year in a row, Ellen Barrett, Ph.D., professor of physiology, was recognized with the Temple Unsung Hero Award, named for J. Donald Temple, M.D., associate professor of medicine and Director of the William J. Harrington Medical Training Programs for Latin America. “Her dedication is always evident, and she has an unwavering commitment to excellence in education,” said one student.

The Paff Intern of the Year award was given to Augustus Rush, M.D., who “consistently took the time to educate and support us in a busy hospital setting,” as one student commented. Grigoriy Klimovich, M.D., received the Paff Resident of the Year award, but couldn’t attend due to his upcoming marriage.

Sibi Krishnamurthy, who is graduating from the M.D. program in May, was honored with the Thomas Crowder Award, given to a fourth-year male student in honor of the Reverend Thomas Crowder, former Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Krishnamurthy was praised for serving as class of 2018 president, dedicating time to the Harvey Academic Society and attending 27 of 29 Mitchell Wolfson Sr. Department of Community Service (DOCS) community health fairs as a student. “He is an outstanding scholar, mentor and friend to all of us,” said one student.

The Janet Canterbury Award was given to Andrea Madiedo, a fourth-year female medical student who was called “an incredible mentor who embodies our school spirit.” Janet Canterbury, Ph.D., professor of endocrinology, served as Deputy Dean for Medical Education, Senior Associate Dean for Student Administration and Senior Dean for Special Projects in her 30-year career at the school.

In a letter to her fellow students, Madiedo said, “It has been a pleasure to share our experiences and inspire each other. That’s what being a ’Cane is all about!”

A link to the photos taken at the 2016 George Paff Teaching Awards Ceremony is here.

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